Virginia Shoplifting Law Excerpts

Chapter 5 — Crimes Against Property

§ 18.2-103. Concealing or taking possession of merchandise; altering price tags; transferring goods from one container to another; counseling, etc., another in performance of such acts.

Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another’s use without having paid the full purchase price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise, (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny. The willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, while still on the premises thereof, shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner thereof out of the value of the goods or merchandise.

§ 8.01-44.4. Action for shoplifting and employee theft.

A. A merchant may recover a civil judgment against any adult or emancipated minor who shoplifts from that merchant for two times the unpaid retail value of the merchandise, but in no event an amount less than $50. However, if the merchant recovers the merchandise in merchantable condition, he shall be entitled to liquidated damages of no more than $350.

B. A merchant may recover a civil judgment against any person who commits employee theft for two times the actual cost of the merchandise to the merchant, but in no event an amount less than fifty dollars. However, if the merchant recovers the merchandise in merchantable condition, he shall be entitled to liquidated damages of no more than $350.

C. The prevailing party in any action brought pursuant to this section shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs not to exceed $150.

D. A conviction of or a plea of guilty to a violation of any other statute is not a prerequisite to commencement of a civil action pursuant to this section or enforcement of a judgment. No action may be initiated under this section if any criminal action has been initiated against the perpetrator for the alleged offense under §§ 18.2-95, 18.2-96, 18.2-102.1, or § 18.2-103 or any other criminal offense defined under subsection F. However, nothing herein shall preclude a merchant from nonsuiting the civil action brought pursuant to this section and proceeding criminally under §§ 18.2-95, 18.2-96, 18.2-102.1 or § 18.2-103 or any other criminal offense defined under subsection F.

E. Prior to the commencement of any action under this section, a merchant may demand, in writing, that an individual who may be civilly liable under this section make appropriate payment to the merchant in consideration for the merchant’s agreement not to commence any legal action under this section.

F. For purposes of this section:

“Employee theft” means the removal of any merchandise or cash from the premises of the merchant’s establishment or the concealment of any merchandise or cash by a person employed by a merchant without the consent of the merchant and with the purpose or intent of appropriating the merchandise or cash to the employee’s own use without full payment.

“Shoplift” means any one or more of the following acts committed by a person without the consent of the merchant and with the purpose or intent of appropriating merchandise to that person’s own use without payment, obtaining merchandise at less than its stated sales price, or otherwise depriving a merchant of all or any part of the value or use of merchandise: (i) removing any merchandise from the premises of the merchant’s establishment; (ii) concealing any merchandise; (iii) substituting, altering, removing, or disfiguring any label or price tag; (iv) transferring any merchandise from a container in which that merchandise is displayed or packaged to any other container; (v) disarming any alarm tag attached to any merchandise; or (vi) obtaining or attempting to obtain possession of any merchandise by charging that merchandise to another person without the authority of that person or by charging that merchandise to a fictitious person.

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